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Abortion: Pro-Life Theories of Morality

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March 12, 2018

Soraya Saatchi

PHIL 223 TR 2:00

Essay 2

        John T. Noonan was primarily concerned with the question of what determines the humanity of a being, believing that if one was conceived by human beings then they are also a human being. Noonan therefore criticized the five criteria used to determine humanity if one does not believe his former statement. This includes viability, experience, sentiment, sense experience, and social visibility. He gave criticisms for each of these in that their conclusions are invalid due to the consequences that lead to said conclusion. His second main point of argument in favor of pro-life must do the probability of conception and how this can designate the rights assigned to human beings. The likely hood of one being conceived is astronomically low, estimated at trillions to one, for this reason Noonan views conception as a dividing line in developing life. The main issue with Noonan’s argument and many other pro-lifers of the time was that they defined personhood too broadly making it hard to defend all cases that fit into their ideology. Don Marquis realized this and aimed to create a more focused answer to the question of morality of abortions.

        Marquis first aimed to address what makes it wrong to kill an adult human, and if those same reasons can be applied to the abortion of a fetus. And he found that the issue with the taking of an adult human life was that it robbed the person of all that was to come, taking away the value of all that was to come in their life. This argument was much easier to defend than previous pro-lifer’s reasonings but was not without its faults. While it explains the wrongness of death in such a way that murder, and abortion are comparable, it’s shows speciesism as it values human life above all other life on earth. Marquis was not concerned with personhood in that its definition was very vague and applicable to several non-human beings; a “person” is not the same as a “human”. Some humans such as fetuses and the severely mentally disabled would fail to be considered “persons” under this definition. For this reason, Marquis is not concerned with the killing of a person, but rather the morality of killing a human.



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